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Sunday, May 8, 2016

Butterfly Bride~~

Butterfly Bride
(Coming soon!)

“Oh, Sophie-Sophie-Sophie!”

“Elfrieda! My darling!”

Hearts pounding, the sisters embraced. They’d been separated for well over a year now, living on letters and hopes, but Sophie’s new husband had acted more quickly than anyone had ever hoped. Karl Wildbach had sent the money for passage from Bremen in Germany, and here Elfie was, on the porch of a lovely stone farmhouse overlooking a millrace and surrounded by tidy gardens and trees. It was exactly as beautiful as Sophie had written. Elfie had wanted to pinch herself ever since she’d left Hanover, with it’s sad memories, traveled through smoky, dark Bremen, and begun, with her big sister, ‘Lotte, the great adventure of their immigration to America.
Hand-me-Down Bride
Sophie's Story

And now she was here—journey completed at last!

“Where have you been? And where’s Ilga?”

“Oh, ma’am,” Arthur said, “Miz Ilga decided she wanted to go straight up to the ‘Springs Hotel and I had to take her. That added on some miles.”

Sophie shook her head and looked knowing. “Oh, your Aunt!” she said to Elfie. “but poor Mr. Bullmaster! Hardly cold in his grave."

"She says life is for the living and that it is for the best that he passed so quickly. She said that the week he lived--although he might just as well have been dead for all he knew--was the worst of her life.”

 As the wagonette had approached, Elfie had first caught sight of her sister latching the gate to a garden  patch, a wicker basket overflowing with greens on her arm. Although the house was substantial, with four fine windows at the bottom and five across the top, and although the countryside on every side was endlessly green and growing, the way her sister looked was rather shocking. Elfie remembered her elder sister as statuesque and pale, but now, the face beneath a broad-brimmed straw hat was plump, rosy, and brown. The hands clasping hers were tanned, muscular and plant stained.
Instead of a genteel lady, a soft city dweller, her sister was now an American farmer’s wife. Sophie Wildbach was also very pregnant, belly high beneath a broad, dusty apron.  Inside Elfie’s embrace, she felt sweaty. Up close, after all this time, Elfie saw there were weary shadows under her eyes.

“And is dear Lotte feeling any better?” Sophie asked when Elfie released her.

“Yes, much. We’re all so glad. The doctor said another week and she should be ready to travel.” Her older sister had been intermittently ill on the sea voyage and had arrived in Philadelphia rather the worse for wear. It had not been the plan at all, as Lotte, the older, was supposed to be the one who would look after her little sister.  Fortunately, Aunt Ilga, though barely two  weeks into life as a widow, had met them at the boat, or Elfie was not sure how well she would have managed.

“Good to hear! I’ve been quite worried, ever since you wrote. Now, perhaps, we’ll be able to have Lotte here for a visit and to rest a little before she goes to work at Attorney Wert’s.  Oh, and here is Mrs. D.—Divine Daniels,” Sophie added, turning to introduce her to the black woman who’d just appeared in the doorway. Divine was busily wiping her hands on a dishcloth and her head tied up in a bright kerchief. She was dressed in a worn calico dress and white apron, like most other American kitchen help Elfie had seen.

“How do you do,” said Elfie. She wasn’t sure whether to curtsy or nod, but the woman said, “Guten tag, Fraulein” and stuck out her hand, so Elfie shook it. Aunt Ilga had black servants, but she treated them like inferiors, not like members of the household.  Sophie, in her letters, had always spoken of her relations with the helpful “Mrs. D” as if she was a sort of wise older friend.

“Well, well. Aren’t you jes the picture o’pretty, Mizz Elfrieda!” Divine looked her up and down, her dark eyes brightening. “Just like our dear Mizz Sophie has bin sayin’.” Before Elfie could think of anything to say beyond “thank-you” she added, “Dinner’s jus’ about ready, Mizz Sophie. And I see you got more a them good greens.”

“A whole new row leafed out real nice after that rain, and it’s a good thing too, the way everyone was eatin' them up.” As Sophie leaned to retrieve the basket again, Divine anticipated her.

“Here, Mizz.  Let me.” Divine, full basket in hand, gestured at the door.  “Go in, ladies. The ‘hands will be comin’ in a few minutes and then we’ll all sit down. Where’s Miz Ilga, then?”

Arthur spoke up. “Already hopped it to the ‘Springs Hotel, Mrs. D. She had me drive her up there before bringin’ Miss Elfrida to German’s Mill.”

Divine gave a little whoop. “But, do tell, Mr. Art!” She retreated a few steps down to touch the young man on the shoulder as he stood, ragged straw hat politely in hand. “And how’d you ever git all that luggage up on that wagon when you and Mr. Nathan both suffer from them skinny arms?”   

“Oh, Mr. Moonshine came by and gave us a hand. He was there seein’ his Aunt Essy home to Harrisburg.”

“Well, that was right kind of him.”

“And oh Sophie, Aunt Ilga was ever so rude to—uh--Mr. Moonshine. I was so embarrassed.” Elfie spoke up. She’d been curious about this man, so handsome, so strong and so silent. It pleased her that he’d again come into the conversation. She hoped to learn a little more about him. 
Something about those dark brown eyes regarding her!  Simply remembering brought on a small shiver of delight.

“Mr. Bullmaster’s manner has rubbed off, I guess, or maybe it’s Philadelphia ways, but you know, Schwester, I believe she was always a little brusk. Mama, remember, often said she was the brave one, you know, abenteurlich, when she reminisced about their younger days. I’m sure Mr. Sam wasn’t offended. He’s been out in the hard old world, hasn’t he, Divine?”

“Yes. He’s another one went away into that war far too young.”

“Mr. Moonshine's ‘bout the same age as my Karl, isn’t he?”

“Mr. Karl's always sayin' Sam Moonshine was a bigger a fool than he was, ‘cause he left a happy home behind to go to that terrible war.”

 This piqued Elfie’s interest, but no more on the subject was forthcoming. Sophie turned back to Arthur.

“Well, Art, that trunk’s too heavy for you to shift up those stairs by yourself, so don’t do anything ‘till Raymond can help.  Just leave the wagonette where it is and unhitch Duke and take him down to the barn. See if Freeman can rug him straight away. He's hot and in a lather.”
 Elfie watched while Arthur stepped down to collect the leads he’d slipped over the post. The horse had pulled hard during that journey down to the big hotel and back. The big red creature with the creamy mane had done the job willingly, but now he was clearly tired and wanted water.
Art was a lanky young American, whose conversation on the hour long drive back from Letort Springs had been minimal, although she’d thanked him several times. Elfie had a feeling talking would have been difficult in any case, because he appeared painfully shy.  He’d blushed like mad when he’d spoken with Aunt Ilga and then had blushed even more painfully every time he looked at Elfie  beside him.
There was a clink and chink while the horses were unhitched. Divine again held the door for Sophie and Elfie to go in, and took charge of the heavy carpet bag. Inside, curtains were open, and dapples fell into the room through the linden trees that long ago Wildbach had brought with him from the old country.

It was a warm day, so screens were set to catch the breeze. They entered a cool hallway and then Elfie followed her sister into a study with a square table, set with ledgers and paper, a long high-backed bench and several chairs. On one side a tall bookshelf stood, filled with leather tomes.

“Sit down, dear one. Would you like a glass of water or some tea?”  
When Elfie asked for water, Sophie said she’d just go out and bring it.
“I should be bringing that to you.” Elfie sent a meaningful look at her sister’s belly. 

“Tomorrow.” Sophie smiled. “After you figure out where things are.”

As she went into the kitchen, Sophie thought: Good Lord! Elfie has grown into a perfect stunner! She felt keenly how many things had changed in the last year. There was a flash of sadness for the elegant, soft-handed girl she had once been.
Then the baby moved heavily inside. Although she was bone-weary and her back ached, she’d never change a single thing about this new world that she’d, all alone, so bravely entered.

~~Juliet Waldron

And, dear reader, if you've got a moment, hop on over to these other talented


Unknown said...

How funny that we both choose to write about brides. This seems to be a hot topic and I'm really liking the direction mine is headed. Sadly, this is my swan song to writing. I just don't have it in me to continue.

Tricia McGill said...

I love your books, Juliet and look forward to this one. Your descriptions take you straight into the scene.